I Went Without Shampoo And Silicones For A Month And Now I Have Mermaid Hair

I washed once a week with apple cider vinegar and baking soda, and the results were surprising, even to me! And I’ve SEEN THINGS, man.
Publish date:
February 4, 2014
wavy hair, shampoos, conditioners, apple cider vinegar, 100% Pure, baking soda, Mermaid Hair, Silicones

I made the decision to try going
shampoo-free about a month ago. I was on holiday, and I neglected to buy
shampoo, and didn’t want to use the garbage hotel crap, so I just skipped

It’s not the first time I’ve had to
do without; I do backcountry trips that are sweaty and rainy, and last for four or five days, and I travel around a lot. I don’t pack nonessentials. My hair will get
tangled, matted, be worn as twin braids, then buns, then a hat. I can keep
that up for about a month and a half. But this wasn’t Alaska; it was California
and I had to be at Mass in an hour, preferably not looking like Grizzly Adams.

There was a frantic trip to Target for some Pantene (this girl is on a budget!), and then I was blowing out my hair
with Biolage like there’s was no tomorrow. It was sleek and lovely until I
washed it again. Then cue Frizzpocalypse.

I’ve tried going shampoo-free a few
times--once when I first started college (your body’s full of toxins, man!) and
again when I lived on a boat. It never worked. The first wash was fine, and the
second was was gross; and then all gross, where it’s negligible that you should
wash it at all. After about a week, it’s all “Dear god, someone get me some
Suave Coconut Shampoo!” and I’ll throw a handful of quarters at them, because
Suave is cheap as hell and smells like memories.

Which is pretty much how I recently fell off the wagon. I was riding
high on the no silicone, dimethicone, sulfates--basically everything fun in hair products
ever--bandwagon for years. My hair was as healthy as a nest of dead cells can

But I have a problem: I love hair products. Hair products are like mascara
to me; it’s all very similar, it deals with a very simple problem, and yet, I
wholeheartedly believe that THIS ONE is going to be different. Every new
oil/serum/treatment will unleash some secret hidden beauty in my ashy brown
hair. I usually can’t even wait until I get out of the store to try them. And
alas, I’ll use a product for a few weeks, until it kind of ruins my hair
texture, and then I’ll stop.

When out of the blue, regular shampoos started
causing skin problems, namely hellacious backne, I quit cold turkey. I took the
pious route of aloe vera juice and tea tree oil.

All of these crazy industrial
chemicals build up over time, react with your natural sebum, and are pretty
hard to remove. Sulfates dry and
irritate your scalp, making your sebaceous glands produce too much or too little
sebum. I get that having super-sleek silky-shiny hair is in, but adding
silicone and dimethicone to your hair isn’t doing you any real favours. All it
does is coat the hair, making it slippery and immune to humidity--which sounds
great, admittedly, but it also attracts dust, air pollution and whatever other
garbage is floating around in the air, weighing down your hair and making it

So the solution, one would think, is to use a good clarifying shampoo.

Most clarifying shampoos use
sulfate salts, and work by stripping your hair of silicones--along with the
outer keratin layer (eventually) and all the oils on your scalp. One of two
things happens: they either deposit MORE silicone, or leave your hair feeling
like straw. It seems obvious to follow with a heavy conditioner, which ALSO has
silicones. Huzzah! You’ve just completed the cycle of slowly ruining your hair.

It’s amazing how easy it is to care for and style hair that isn’t slathered in
silicone. I am in love with the way silicone makes my hair behave--at FIRST.
And I will still use it on occasion, but I’m careful to remove it and keep it
out of my daily routine.

So thusly I began my route of
shampoo-free. I did it entirely for 21 days, washing once a week with apple
cider vinegar and baking soda. The results were surprising, even to me! And
I’ve seen things, man.

One of the big things people do
wrong when they go shampoo-free, is they don’t remove all of the garbage built
up in their hair first, or they remove it too well. There’s a much longer "adjustment" time if you don’t get rid of all the silicones already in your hair.

100% Pure was
sweet enough to send me their Yuzu & Pomelo Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner; it’s not only sulfate-free, but doesn’t contain any synthesized
chemicals at all. It smells juicy and fresh, and left my hair clean without
adding any build-up.

I looked around online for the
proportions of each to get your hair clean; some beauty blogs recommended using
as much as 3TB of each baking soda and vinegar to wash with, but seeing as how
vinegar and baking soda contain powerful chemicals that can absolutely fry your
scalp, I chose to dilute them both to 1TB to 8oz of water, massage the baking
soda into my wet scalp, rinse with water, then massage in the ACV, again
focusing on my scalp, and rinse really well again. There was a bit of vinegar
smell, but it subsided when my hair dried.


I’m not going to lie. Things are
weird. My hair LOOKS great--it has a good texture, the natural wave is out and
glorious--but the top of my head has a halo of frizzy curlies. It’s got heaps
of volume, but it’s also kind of a mess. It’s staticky as hell and I wet my
hair down all day, so that I looked like disgruntled fifth grader.

mid-point to the next wash, my hair doesn’t look bad, but it isn’t shiny. It
looks and feels like I live at Bonaroo.


This time is different. I’m still
not used to the baking soda rub, and I can tell where the oil from my scalp has
kind of leached a few more inches towards my roots. Since I have frizzy crimpy
hair, I don’t brush it at all, thus I’m not distributing the oils around.

it’s dry, my hair has a pronounced wave, and looks a bit stringy, but soft
overall. More volume, but it’s more like it’s pose-able than full. I put it up
in a topknot for an hour, and I looked like David Bowie when I took it out.


My ends are starting to feel dry,
so I try to concentrate the vinegar on my scalp, and put the tiniest bit of 100% Pure’s Yuzu & Pomelo conditioner in my ends. My hair feels bigger, heavier.
It’s really wavy, and if I even try to re-arrange it, and it gets bushy. So I
don’t touch it, but it looks really great.

Once it’s been a full day, I just
have a big, wavy mess. But it’s in a good way, I think. It’s definitely shinier
than before, and the conditioner helped smooth my tattered ends.


It went against everything I’ve
seen in shampoo commercials. My hair is not silky; it’s huge, wavy, and shiny, and I think I like that better! It
doesn’t feel gross anymore, and I’ve been going solid without silicones or
shampoo for over a month!

I’m still going to use silicones for special
occasions, but I’m through completely bathing in them. I love the texture and
wave my hair has now--it’s like beachy mermaid hair, all the time.

What do you think? Does it look gross? Have you ever gone shampoo-free?